35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. –Matthew 9:35, 36 (KJV)
This past Monday, our nation observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This observance always causes me to reflect on events of my childhood which helped formulate many of the attitudes and beliefs to which I hold today. Growing up in Dayton, Ohio in the 1960’s and 70’s, I attended an elementary school that while predominately white had numerous African American children. By the time I reached high school the school I attended was fully integrated with a fairly even number of black and white students. There were few race-related problems there during that time. We were just kids going to school, getting along with one another, and sharing the similar struggles involved with finding our places in the world. Had Dr. King lived to walk the halls of Colonel White High School while I was a student there he would have rejoiced to know his efforts were not in vain.
Along with my school experience was my attendance at a large Baptist church where we sang songs such as “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” (the line about “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight” made an indelible impression) and I heard countless sermons about the gospel of Jesus Christ being for all people regardless of skin color.
At some point in my youth I came to the realization that the gospel is for all people, therefore none should be excluded. Following this was my personal decision to turn away from the ugliness of racism. I believe both these attitudes came together in a manner that helped me see others as people in need of Christ and deserving of fair and equal treatment regardless of skin color. I hold these views as vital in preaching the gospel and reaching out to a lost and hurting world. The Bible says when Jesus went about proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, it is clear He did so with the intention of reaching all who would receive Him. Any who desired to turn from sin and trust Christ could receive the salvation Christ offered.
Consider how that “whosoever” (John 3:16) means you and me. Christ came to save sinners. He looked at our need, not the color of our skin, and we are saved through faith in Him. Rejoice and be glad today, for the gospel is for us. Jesus loves us, not because our skin is a certain color, but because His loves reaches all who will by faith receive Him. We in turn share His love with others.
God bless you.